Saturday, 4 June 2011

I earn £26k a year... but blew £27k on clothes

I earn £26k a year... but blew £27k on clothes

SHOPPING can give most of us a boost after a bad day or painful break-up.

But for some, the thrill of a new purchase becomes an addiction.

In new film Confessions Of A Shopaholic, Isla Fisher plays shopping addict Becky Bloomwood who goes to incredible lengths to get her retail therapy.

The plot strikes a painful chord for Charlotte Collins, from Hale Barns, Cheshire.

The 27-year-old earns £26,000 a year as an air hostess - but she owes more than her annual salary.

Her wallet is full of maxed-out current account, credit and store cards.

The Sun's DULCIE PEARCE spent a month following Charlotte as she continued her spending spree.

Here we reveal the shocking diary of a real-life shopaholic...

Day 1
I FEEL so depressed. Can no longer afford £300 rent to live with my best friend Natalie so am moving back in with my parents.

Over the years, I've amassed almost £24,000 debt on student loans, five credit cards, an overdraft and a loan. Paying it off is proving impossible.

What I'll miss most is the shopping mall that's a two-minute walk from our flat.

Mum thinks I'm a shopaholic but I beg to differ. Yes, I may go out and blow £200 a time on clothes but a girl needs treats.

New movie ... rings true for Charlotte

In a last panic before moving home, I buy a £150 pair of thigh-high boots and a box set of C4 comedy Ugly Betty. I justify it by telling myself soon I will be saving lots of money at home.

Today spent: £190

Debt: £24,190

Day 2

On standby with my job as an air hostess.

Bored hanging around, so sneak into town and buy a dress and a handbag to add to my collection of more than 30.

My debt is weighing on my mind but I push it to the background.

When I was young I was good at saving money. But at uni I couldn't stop shopping.

I'd blow my student loan in the first two weeks of term.

I haven't stopped spending since.

Today spent: £180

Debt: £24,370

Day 4

I arrive in Florida after a long-haul flight. We're all knackered so I order a couple of bottles of champagne in the hotel bar, on me.

In the morning, I throw all my receipts from the night before into the bin without so much as a glance at the deadly total.
My mantra, as always, is "ignorance is bliss".

Today spent: £280

Debt: £24,650

Day 7

Back in England and have a few days off. Sneak out when Mum goes to work to do a bit of window-shopping.

Can't resist some make-up in MAC, then spot my dream denim jacket in French Connection.

At £270 it's too expensive, so I leave the shop like a good girl. Ten minutes later, I go back to buy it.

At home, I wait until mum's having a bath to smuggle in my purchases from the car.

Upstairs, I cut out the labels and stuff the bags under my bed to hide the evidence.

Today spent: £360

Debt: £25,010

Shoe have to be joking ... Charlotte with some of her many purchases

Day 9

You can't get much past mum. She spotted my jacket and I told her I borrowed it from a friend.

I hate lying and feel pretty guilty. Later, I cuddle India, my Bengal cat I bought for £500 when I split up with my boyfriend a year ago.

I squander £180 on alcohol whilst out that night, including two rounds of mini bottles of champers for my friends which we drink through straws.

Today spent: £205

Debt: £25,215
Day 10

Wake to a hangover and a pile of letters from credit card companies and the bank.

I can spot a statement a mile off now and shove them straight in the bin. Mum has started making me open them though.

I feel awful when I see my bank balance is £2,223 DR and I've incurred a £50 fine for going over my £2,000 overdraft limit.

My Mini Cooper repayment scheme bill has also come through. I got it on credit and have to pay it off at £387 a month.

It's a huge chunk out of my £1,300-a-month salary but definitely worth it for the status.

Today spent: £457

Debt: £25,672

Guilty pleasures ... Isla Fisher in Confessions Of A Shopaholic

Day 14

My friend Vicky invites me to Ibiza and of course I say yes. I've been twice already this year but it would be rude to let my friends down so I whack it on my credit card.

Before I depart for my next flight to Florida, I get a haircut and colour at Toni & Guy, which I know will go nice and golden in the sun.

Feel like a million dollars so push the £170 price to the back of my mind.

Today spent: £550

Debt: £26,222

Day 18

Despite my best efforts to remain in complete denial, I've started to worry about my debts so I ban myself from going to town. But I can't resist logging on to

I tell myself I'm just looking but five minutes later I find myself clicking the "confirm payment" button for a £95 pair of skinny jeans in the style of Sienna Miller.

Still, it's far less painful than actually withdrawing the cash.

Today spent: £95

Debt: £26,317

Day 20

Unfortunately, mum opened the door when the postman arrived with my ASOS delivery.

I endure her wrath as she tells me I need to be more responsible.

With all the stress of the situation, I have to get out. Natalie and I decide to paint the town red to cheer ourselves up. Champagne is on the menu, of course.

The credit card foots the bill.

Today spent: £110

Debt: £26,427

Day 22

Receive a number-withheld call today. It's the bank - and I hang up.

Annoyingly, they call me straight back.

Nearly have a panic attack when I'm told I have missed three payments on my credit cards and am being charged £130 interest.

That's a new pair of jeans or a night out. What a waste to spend it on bank charges.

Today spent: £130

Debt: £26,557

Day 23

Mum and dad sit me down for a serious chat and reluctantly agree to loan me £400 to pay off some of my debts.

Now I owe them too. Some of what they are saying has sunk in. My debts are now nearly £27,000.

Hooked ... Isla Fisher as Becky Bloomwood getting her retail therapy

How will I ever pay it back? I realise that at the rate I'm going I'm just gambling my chance of a comfortable life away.

I lock myself in my room for the day so am physically unable to spend. Even so, within a few hours I'm missing shopping. This is torture.

Today spent: £0

Debt: £26,557

Day 25

I've come to the conclusion I'm addicted to spending and, on my mother's advice, I go to see a private debt adviser in town.

He informs me it will take me seven years to get back in credit - and that's only if I live at home and be rigorous with my repayments.

Ironically, it costs me £387 for six weeks-worth of debt advice.

Seven years? By then, I'll be 34. I'd hoped to be married with kids by then, not living with my parents and having to account for every penny I spend.

I am also informed that as I have such a bad credit rating, I will probably never get a mortgage - not that there is much chance of me saving a deposit any time soon.

All those rounds of champagne for people I'll never see again have cost me my future.

That night, racked with guilt and worry, I can hardly sleep as I toss and turn.

Today spent: £387

Debt: £26,944

Day 27

Mini breakthrough today. I am out shopping and go to Primark instead of my usual haunts.

OK, I can't stop spending, but at least I'm getting more for my money.

Later, I rent a movie and order a two-for-one pizza takeaway with Natalie.

I spend under a tenner - my cheapest Saturday night in years.

Today spent: £60

Debt: £27,004

Day 30

Great. With the credit crunch in full swing, I'm worried about my airline going bust and losing my job.

I can only make the minimum payments on my five credit cards and live a life at the same time.

I am trying to be sensible. I have swapped mobile phone tariffs to save money and am raising funds by selling my clothes on eBay.

I can't go cold turkey on shopping though - the thought makes me panic.

Whilst online, I go to ASOS and buy a shirt in the sale. At least it is discounted.

Slowly though, I'm accepting that to get myself out of this mess it's going to mean a decade of scrimping and saving.

I can't say I'm looking forward to it - I guess I'm learning the hard way.

Today spent: £50

Total debt: £27,054

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